Whether you kayak for leisure or competitively, part of the fun of kayaking is zipping through the water at high speed. Kayaks are made to glide smoothly through the water, but they are powered only by human effort. As long as you have a smooth, lightweight kayak, the most significant improvement you can make to your kayaking experience is the quality of your paddle.
Kayak paddles typically have a blade on either end of a long shaft. They are made from many materials and come in a variety of designs. When choosing a kayak paddle that is built for speed, pay attention to the following features of the paddles you have to choose from.
Kayak paddles are made from a variety of materials, including plastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and aluminum. Although they are all effective choices for kayak paddles, no material is better for speed than carbon fiber. Unlike aluminum or plastic, carbon fiber is exceptionally light, allowing kayakers to propel themselves through the water with minimal effort. It is also one of the most durable materials used to make kayak paddles. When you choose a lightweight carbon fiber paddle, you are making a long-term investment in your kayaking experience.
Traditional kayak paddles have a simple, straight shaft that connects the two blades. This design works well for non-competitive kayaking excursions that are relatively short. If you plan to kayak for a long time or at top speeds, you may want to invest in a paddle with a bent shaft. These shafts are slightly bent in several places, giving kayakers several places to comfortably grip the paddle. The effects of using a bent-shaft paddle are most noticeable during the power portion of the stroke, so these paddles protect the joints and muscles from fatigue and strain.
Kayakers fight both water and air resistance as they push themselves across the water. Traditional paddles with matched blades create extra air resistance when one blade is pulled up out of the water and glides through the air on its way back down. Feathered paddles feature blades that are at a 90-degree angle to each other, so when one blade is pushing the water, the other is gliding smoothly through the air. This dramatically reduces the air resistance the paddle creates. Many blades can be changed from matched to feathered, but if you have to choose just one setting, choosing a paddle with feathered blades can help you reach high speeds easily.
To learn more about kayak paddles, contact a sporting goods retailer in your area.